Good morning, Memphis, where the Grizzlies whooped that trick in a record-setting game in raucous FedExForum to advance to game six against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Western Conference Semifinals.
But, first, speaking of the Grizzlies, the team’s lease at FedExForum is up in 2029 and the process of keeping the team here has begun, our Samuel Hardiman reports in this story for subscribers.
Recent negotiations among Shelby County government, the city and the Grizzlies to amend the team’s current lease at FedExForum have served as a reminder that the team’s deal expires this decade — at the end of the 2028-2029 season.
To city government, it is not too early to start thinking about a second lease — at a renovated arena or something else.
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Memphis in May barbecue contest is back in full force
Yesterday marked the first day of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Competition, where 215 teams are competing, our Gina Butkovich reports. The event wraps up Saturday at the Fairgrounds in Liberty Park. The weather will be steamy today.
This year’s competition is the first full-fledged Memphis in May barbecue contest since 2019. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. A scaled-back version was held in 2021, with several COVID-19 restrictions in place.
“Competitions, everybody that competes has that competitive nature, but it’s also, above and beyond that, we compete because competitions in the barbecue circuit are like family reunions,” said Brooke Lewis, co-owner of The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, Mississippi . “That feels really good now that we’re getting past the COVID and the restrictions of having to be proactive and safe, now that we feel a little bit more at ease we can feel like we have that reunion again and can compete.”
Memphis city leaders call TVA study ‘political’, not informative
Also reported by Samuel, some Memphis city councilmembers hammered Tennessee Valley Authority and expressed skepticism that a report on the power provider’s economic impact in the region was anything more than a political maneuver.
VAT paid the Greater Memphis Chamber $75,000 for the report. The report, released last week, claimed that TVA has had a $1 billion impact on the region’s gross domestic product between 2016 to 2020. The report, which was produced last year but just became public, rubbed many members the wrong way.
In another story related to TVA, the power provider briefly planned to tell Memphis about plans to bury coal ash in a Memphis landfill in January of last year, however TVA canceled the announcement and it’s not clear why, Samuel reports.
The coal ash, which is currently being removed from unlined pits next to the retired Allen Fossil Plant and transported to a Southeast Memphis landfill, is the legacy of burning decades-worth of coal.
The Southern Environmental Law Center and its partners questioned why TVA stalled the announcement and said the emails show evidence that the power provider wanted to hide its decision to dispose of the coal ash.
MSCS found more than 1 in 4 students missed 10% of class
Memphis-Shelby County Schools kept its classrooms open as delta and omicron COVID-19 variants flooded the community, but student attendance rates hit their lowest point of the last five years, district data shows, our Laura Testino reports.
Chronic absenteeism, a measure of students who have missed 10% of school days or more, is at its highest point of the last five years.
“One thing to also keep in mind is across the nation, almost all schools are showing a decrease in attendance, and that is due of course to the COVID situation,” Shawn Page, the chief of academic operations and school support for the district said .
DeSoto County parents ‘wait impatiently’ for legalized medical marijuana
Some parents in DeSoto County have waited a long time for medical marijuana to come to Mississippi, and now their wait is finally over, our Gina Butkovich reports.
“My main push, all along, was for the kids,” said Amy Smoot, an activist for medical marijuana legalization in DeSoto County. “Because adults can find it, on the black market, we’ve been able to, forever. But we needed the kids to have safe, tested, regulated, medicine. Not something that came through 12 people’s hands and came through five states and you don’t know whose touched it. That was the whole goal all along, to get a safe, regulated product to these kids.”
Govt. Tate Reeves signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in Mississippi in early February. The state will begin accepting license applications from businesses, doctors and patients on June 1, meaning medical marijuana could begin to be prescribed by July.
Strip lead from Memphis homes to curb risk of youth violence
While it’s known that lead can poison children’s chances of excelling in school, what’s rarely discussed, or for that matter, acknowledged, is how lead can poison children’s chances of avoiding violent behavior that can land them in prison, or in a grave, our Tonyaa Weathersbee writes in her latest column as part of an occasional series on youth violence for subscribers.
Here’s an exception:
Had Dorothy Moore procrastinated at the thought of removing lead from her pre-1978 home, the other day her 3-year-old grandson, Christopher, might have been playing with flecks of toxic paint from the windowsill.
Instead, he was playing with Sharon Hyde’s face.
“He loves to grab on stuff, to eat on everything,” said Moore, as the child, who struggles with the brain disorder hydrocephalus, played with Hyde, who is housing program manager for Green & Healthy Homes Initiative in Memphis, a national organization that works with communities to remove lead hazards in homes.
“See, he’s wanting to put his hand in my mouth right now,” Hyde said. “If he had been playing outside, what are most boys going to do? They’re going to find dirt and dig in it…a lot of these homes have lead in the dirt…”
Grizzlies obliterate Golden State Warriors in Game 5
Confidence in the Grizzlies was restored Wednesday night with a statement-making performance, our Damichael Cole reports. The Grizzlies rebounded, shot well, played defense and showed tons of energy.
More than anything, they dominated. The Grizzlies smashed the Warriors 134-95 in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, cutting their series deficit to 3-2. The Grizzlies set playoff records in points scored, 3-pointers made (18) and margin of victory (39).
Damichael gives us observations from last night’s game and a look ahead toward Game 6 in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Who was Ja Morant before he became a Memphis Grizzlies star?
Before Ja Morant became a Memphis Grizzlies basketball star, he was well-known to many in Sumter County, South Carolina, who believed in the greatness of the undersized kid with oversized dreams, our David Thompson reports.
They were the least surprised when he made it as an NBA star.
“He’s like a combination of a Derrick Rose and a young Allen Iverson,” said 27-year-old Marquise Jackson, who graduated from Crestwood High School five years before Morant became a local star with the Knights. “Watching Ja play, you know something’s going to happen.”
David tells us the story of Ja Morant through the eyes of people who grew up with him and watched him grow into the man representing Memphis and the Grizzlies.
The 901 is written by Ray Padilla, digital producer for The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ray_Padilla_.there